Save Destruction of the Ancient and Sacred Forest of Mattewara & the River Sutlej.
All the Members Of Legislative Assembly of Punjab
Date : 27 th June, 2022
Save Destruction of the Ancient and Sacred Forest of Mattewara.
As you know, Mattewara Forest is one of the last surviving ancient and historical forests of Punjab, we would like that you actively pursue with Punjab’s CM, the cabinet ministers and the concerned bureaucrats to look into this matter urgently and seriously treating it as a state emergency before government goes ahead with the decision of setting up a mega Textile Park and other industry in the close proximity of this forest. We bring some glaring facts before you:
As you know, less than 3.67% of the Punjab land is covered by forest and introducing such projects will destroy the ecological balance, which in turn will affect the health of the state which is already suffering a major health crisis like cancer, lung diseases, asthma etc. As we know that water is a major factor of concern to Punjab and polluted water from Sutlej will cause further destruction, hence we feel that various social activists, villagers, environmentalists, civil society are protesting against the project, and raising their voices should be heard.
The ongoing Water Scarcity in the world, especially in Punjab, we need to worry about saving our Forests and keeping them away from destruction. Mattewara issue is a rather serious issue as the ongoing work for the cycle valley and industrial textile bank will add to the pollution of the already Cancer suffering state. Presently , the AQI of Ludhiana is over and above the permissible limit. Ludhiana was declared as the worlds fourth most polluted city. Already the city has more than 300 dyeing units in Ludhiana. The factories at Tajpur Road, Rahon Road, Focal Point, and Industrial Area-A have captive effluent-treatment plants but non-transparent treatment procedures.
Of the 675 electroplating units, most empty their toxic wastewater into the Buddha Nullah, adding to the waste that households toss into the drain. As a result, the “Dariya” turned into a “Nullah”, running through Ludhiana from east to west, originating from Koom Kalan and joining the Sutlej river at Wallipur Kalan.
The construction of dams in the past 25 years first reduced and then stopped the fresh water inflow into the nullah from the Sutlej. The sewage, slush and industrial effluents still released into the drain accumulated.
The PPCB data shows Tajpur Road, Sunder Nagar, New Madhopuri, Basti Jodhewal, Shivpuri, Chander Nagar and Vishnu Puri to be worst-affected residential areas. Most are along the nullah. Industrial Area-A, Cheema Chowk, and Manju Cinema mixed-land-use zones have high air pollution. The Sherpur Chowk industrial units have contributed to the worsening of traffic and roads.
The city is among the four most polluted in the world in terms of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in the atmosphere.
Ludhiana has more industries and vehicles than any other city in Punjab but don’t be jealous. Its residents breathe an air rich in toxic gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and mercury. The result is respiratory disorders.
The noise recorded in some areas of Ludhiana is 104 decibels, almost the sound of thunderstorm. It is enough to cause permanent deafness, and harm foetuses, animals and crop. And this noise pollution will disturb the animal life in the Mattewara Forest.
The Mattewara Forest is home to many birds, monkeys, deer, sambar, antelopes, wild boar, Nilgai, and peacocks. The Botanical & Butterfly Garden is one of the finest and fastest developing gardens being maintained by the Forest Division of Ludhiana. And as the legend goes this forest has been visited by two Sikh Gurus, Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It is even said that this land of Mattewara Forest which is on the flood plains of Satluj River, was mentioned by Guru Nanak Dev Ji as the savior of the city of Ludhiana from floods. This forest has a natural phenomenon called the Oxbow Lake which saves the area from flooding.
We would also like to state that according to the Forest Survey of India’s state of forest report 2019 Punjab’s recorded forest area is 3.67% or less. As you know, less than 3.67% of the Punjab land is covered by forest and introducing such projects will destroy the ecological balance, which in turn will affect the health of the state which is already suffering a major health crisis like cancer, lung diseases, asthma etc. As we know that water is a major factor of concern to Punjab and polluted water from Sutlej will cause further destruction, hence we feel that various social activists, villagers, environmentalists, civil society are protesting against the project, and raising their voices should be heard. The land around 407 acres of village Sekhowal was acquired against the wishes of the Gram Sabha. directions Punjab Government has completely ignored these directions. Rather than solving the
Since, past few years various concerned people of the civil society, namely Public Action Committee, Sangarsh , volunteers of EcoSikh, Baba Seechewal, AGAPP, Youth Empowerment Federation, Urban Green Ludhiana, Clean Air Collective Punjab, We Support Our Farmers, Warrior Moms and Vigilant Citizens Forum have time and again protested against the the setting up of Industrial park in the vicinity of the Mattewara Forest and floodplains of River Satluj. In Spite of the National Green Tribunal’s problem the authorities have come up with a new project called Mattewara Textile Park.
Mattewara Textile Park, Modern Industrial Park, Koom Kalan Mega Textile Park are all names of one destructive idea being planned on the bank of River Sutlej on its floodplain adjacent to Mattewara Forest. The Govts. of Punjab and India have finally announced the idea after keeping it secretive for more than a year. The battle has been raging both in the public domain as well as in the NGT. We would also like to mention that a kilogram of fibre both cotton and polyester requires 100 to 150 litres of water and 2273 litres of water is used for the production of just one pair of jeans. Textile producers frequently dump waste water directly into waterways, hence the choice of river Sutlej. This contaminated water from textile industries contain hormone altering chemicals, colored dyes, and cleaning solvents that alter the pH, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorous levels in rivers. This contamination has been linked to increased rates of cancer, asthma, and workers have experienced second and third degree burns from handling chemicals.
The Government has unfortunately chosen the most Eco-sensitive area of Ludhiana for the project. Its Nature vs Destruction in the name of development. The Flood Plains of Sutlej, Water Quality of Sutlej, Drinking Water issues of South Punjab, Biodiversity of Mattewara, Forests of Punjab, underground water of Punjab, Environment of Punjab, Climate Change threats on one side vs Industrial Park.
It is pertinent to mention that building a wall around the Industrial park will not help in checking the air, land and water pollution around the area. This will only lead to the destruction of the forest which have the native varieties of trees, flora and fauna and home to some of the exotic species of animal life. Punjab needs to increase its forest cover to solve the water crisis and not the slow poisoning of its people, forests and animal life.
Keeping the above mentioned concerns we are certain that the interest of the water-depleted state will be kept in first and foremost mind and this project should be stalled.
In the past few years the state off pollution in the rivers have gone from bad to worse wherein industries have been directly discharging untreated Waste into the rivers which has polluted the rivers to such an extent that the water is not even usable anymore and has become a cause of increase in Medical Conditions in the region and down South Punjab.
India currently has 49 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance . The industrial tech park being set up in Mattewara forest will directly impact the wetlands of Harike Pattan .
We are sure that the Government of Punjab will awaken to the environmental dangers ahead of the decision to go ahead to permit polluting industry and heed to all Punjabis and environmentalists’ concerns and keep in mind about the repercussions mentioned in our open letter .
We expect that the positive steps will be taken by the government to ensure the well-being of the state of Punjab.
We are :